These distinctions can accommodate a number of epistemic andmetaphysical pluralist accounts including different versions oftaxonomical pluralism. These range from the more conventional andcontingent (from Elgin 1997 to astronomical kinds in Ruphy 2016), themore grounded in contexts of practices (categorization work in Bowkerand Star 1999 or quantitative kinds in Cat 2016 and in the lifesciences and chemistry in Kendig 2016 ) and the interactive (Hacking’sinteractive kinds in the human sciences) to the more metaphysicallysubstantive. From a methodological standpoint, to the distinctionsabove we can add the distinction between descriptive and evaluativeattitudes to pluralism, and contrast them further with the activistapproach (defended by Chang in Chang 2012) encouraging plurality whereproductive (Chang focuses on the experimental reactivation ofhistorically abandoned programs). As Neurath’s discussion of unitysuggested, also discussions of pluralism are matters of socialepistemology, with social and political correlates and consequences,for instance regarding issues of toleration and democracy.
It is an unwelcome fact for all of these ideas about theory testingthat data are typically produced in ways that make it impossible topredict them from the generalizations they are used to test, or toderive instances of those generalizations from data and non ad hocauxiliary hypotheses. Indeed, it’s unusual for many members of a setof reasonably precise quantitative data to agree with one another, letalone with a quantitative prediction. That is because precise,publicly accessible data typically cannot be produced except throughprocesses whose results reflect the influence of causal factors thatare too numerous, too different in kind, and too irregular in behaviorfor any single theory to account for them. When Bernard Katz recordedelectrical activity in nerve fiber preparations, the numerical valuesof his data were influenced by factors peculiar to the operation ofhis galvanometers and other pieces of equipment, variations among thepositions of the stimulating and recording electrodes that had to beinserted into the nerve, the physiological effects of their insertion,and changes in the condition of the nerve as it deteriorated duringthe course of the experiment. There were variations in theinvestigators’ handling of the equipment. Vibrations shook theequipment in response to a variety of irregularly occurring causesranging from random error sources to the heavy tread of Katz’steacher, A.V. Hill, walking up and down the stairs outside of thelaboratory. That’s a short list. To make matters worse, many of thesefactors influenced the data as parts of irregularly occurring,transient, and shifting assemblies of causal influences.
Hypothesis | Definition of Hypothesis by Merriam-Webster
A criterion of unity defended for its epistemic virtue in relation toevidence is simplicity, or parsimony (Sober 2013 and 2016).Comparatively speaking, simpler hypotheses, models or theories presenta higher likelihood of truth, empirical support and accurateprediction. From a methodological standpoint, however, appeals toparsimony might not be sufficient. Moreover, theconnection between unity as parsimony and likelihood is notinterest-relative, at least in the way that the connection betweenunity and explanation is (Sober 2003; Forster and Sober 1994 and Sober2013 and 2016).
“Patching physics and chemistry together”, Philosophy of Science ..
The focus had been since the 1930s on a syntactic approach, withphysics as the paradigm of science, deductive logical relations as theform of cognitive or epistemic goals such as explanation andprediction, and theory and empirical laws as paradigmatic units ofscientific knowledge (Suppe 1977; Grünbaum and Salmon 1988). Thehistoricist turn in the 1960s, the semantic turn in philosophy ofscience in the 1970s and a renewed interest in special sciences haschanged this focus. The very structure of hierarchy of levels haslost its credibility, even for those who believe in it as a model ofautonomy of levels rather than as an image of fundamentalism. Therejection of such models and their emendations have occupied the lastfour decades of philosophical discussion about unity in and of thesciences (especially in connection to psychology and biology, and morerecently chemistry). A valuable consequence has been the strengtheningof philosophical projects and communities devoting more sustained andsophisticated attention to special sciences, different fromphysics.
Scientific method | Define Scientific method at …
A different approach to reductionism acknowledges a commitment toproviding explanation but rejects the value of a focus on the roleof laws. This approach typically draws a distinction between hardsciences such as physics and chemistry and special sciences such asbiology and the social sciences. It claims that laws that are in a senseoperative in the hard sciences are not available in the special ones, or play a morelimited and weaker role, and this on account of historical character, complexity or reduced scope. The rejection of empirical laws in biology, for instance,has been argued on grounds of historical dependence on contingent initialconditions (Beatty 1995), and as matter of supervenience (see theentry on ) of spatio-temporally restricted functional claims on lower levelmolecular ones, and the multiple realization (see the entry on ) of the former by the latter (Rosenberg 1994; Rosenberg’s argumentfrom supervenience to reduction without laws must be contrasted withFodor’s physicalism about the special sciences about laws withoutreduction (see below and the entry on ); for a criticism of these views see Sober 1996). This non-Nagelianapproach assumes further that explanation rests on identitiesbetween predicates and deductive derivations (reduction andexplanation might be said to be justified by derivations, but notconstituted by them; see Spector 1978). Explanation is provided by lower-levelmechanisms; their explanatory role is to replace final why-necessarilyquestions (functional) with proximate how-possibly questions(molecular).